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The Kenyan Presidential Election Is Over. The Conversation…… | News & Reporting

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William Ruto sees the hand of God in Kenya’s presidential election results.

“We have worked hard,” the outgoing deputy president told his supporters after the Supreme Court ruled he won the presidency, defeating five-time challenger Raila Odinga. “But as the Bible teaches us … some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we trust in God.”

In another victory speech, Ruto credited the many pastors who opened their pulpits to him, accepted donations from his campaign, and urged their congregations to pray for his electoral triumph.

“I have been prayed into victory,” Ruto said.

But as the nation wrestles with the results of the contested election and fallout from the monthlong dispute over the legitimacy of the results, Christians in Kenya are left reflecting on the role believers should have in the fraught political system. Christians make up nearly 90 percent of the population. How should they push for their preferred policies, participate in the political jostle of a campaign, and work to prevent the violence that has too often followed national elections?

Few spoke out against one-party rule

Church leaders, like the rest of Kenya, are still adjusting to a multiple-party system. The nation achieved independence from Great Britain in 1963. But before the decade was out, all political power had been consolidated into a single party. The second president, Daniel arap Moi, stayed in power for nearly 25 years. He has been praised by some—including Ruto—for providing stability, but also accused of human rights violations and called a dictator.

Christians occasionally criticized Moi during his long presidency, but their voices were generally muted. Most supported Moi, even when they disagreed with particular decisions.

“The president was perceived as a benevolent friend of the church, himself being a committed member of one of the larger mainstream denominations—the African Inland Church,” said Wilson Kiuna, who heads a leadership program at Hesabika Trust, an organization supporting Christians in public service.

A few Christian leaders took strong stands against Moi. That agitation came at a cost, and Christians in Kenya are still divided over what to think about their examples.

“The suppression against these voices was so intense that those who engaged in the fight were few and pronounced,” said George Ogalo, the chief operating officer at International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES). “Church leaders who confronted the government of the day were considered by the majority of Christians as being too political and deviating from their core mission as shepherds of the church.”

Since Moi left office in 2002, Christians have gotten more involved in the day-to-day debates over politics and policy. Many were drawn into political debates by a constitutional referendum in 2005—when two of Kenya’s largest Christian groups focused on different priorities and ended up on opposing sides.

The next year, a group of evangelical and Protestant leaders came together and launched their own party, the Agano Party, demonstrating that at least some Christians were interested in a new approach to politics in Kenya. Not many, though. In this year’s election, David Mwaure, the Agano candidate, only earned 0.2 percent of the vote. (Another Christian, gospel musician Reuben Kigame, submitted presidential nomination papers but did not make it on the ballot.)

Then in 2007, Odinga lost his second bid for the presidency but claimed the election was unfair. He made allegations of fraud and called for nationwide protests. His aggrieved supporters clashed with police and paramilitary forces, and more than 1,000 people were killed. Four churches were destroyed in the riots—including one in an attack that killed 50 people—but many in Kenya placed the blame on the pastors themselves.

Responsibility for catalyzing violence is disputed, but there’s no question that the crisis hurt the witness of many Kenyan Christians. The churches, at minimum, were unable to overcome ethnic divisions or prevent believers from attacking other believers.

“At first, leaders spoke like there was nothing wrong,” said one church leader in the Nyanza province who asked not to be named for his own safety. “When they should have spoken the truth, they kept silent, and some of them spoke too late.”

“I remember meeting Peter Mwangi, a young man from my neighborhood, whose family was affected by violence,” said William Kiptoo, the peacebuilding coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee in Kenya and Tanzania. “He told me that he was changing his faith because he saw Christians burning other Christians’ homes.”

Ethnic divisions trouble church

The divisions, of course, did not emerge suddenly in the crisis. Abraham Rugo Muriu, who leads International Budget Partnership Kenya’s office, says they can be traced back to Kenya’s colonial history, and the way people were separated and organized against each other to benefit British rule. The effects linger on.

“We don’t trust people who don’t speak our language, do not live in our areas, to speak for us,” he said. “Ethnicity has been quite divisive, because then it means that even when you have people who have fairly good standing, the fact that they don’t belong to that ethnic group, or there seem to be ‘others,’ becomes a problem.”

Ethnicity also limits who receives presidential consideration in the first place, says Nelson Makanda, the general secretary at the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya (EAK).

“It remains more likely that a presidential candidate from any of the big five communities, Kikuyu, Luhya, Kalenjin, Luo and Kamba, will be elected president just because of their ethnic identity rather than any other factor,” he said.

Going into the 2022 election, many church leaders were still concerned about these internal divisions. They have an impact on national politics and limit Christians’ potential influence over the nation.

“The church in Kenya is split along ethnic lines,” Rugo Muriu said. “Faith and church seem to be sacrificed on the altar of ethnicity.”

As the candidates started campaigning in earnest, though, the pressing question for most churches was whether they would invite the presidential contenders to speak from the pulpit. A number of denominations—reflecting concerns about the past relationship between church and state—felt that having politicians speak in a service was a problem.

Anglicans, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and some evangelicals banned candidates from their pulpits.

“Christians from traditional denominations espouse more the popular theology of politics as a ‘dirty game,’” said Kiuna, with the Hesabika Trust, “and thus maintain a certain aloofness in matters of public and political engagement.”

One notable exception was the United Methodist Church, which decided that congregations could, if they wanted, invite presidential candidates to speak.

“The church is for all people,” said Joseph Ntombura, presiding bishop of the Methodist Church in Kenya. “Human beings are political, so there is nothing wrong with inviting the politicians in church.”

Questions about corruption

Many of the Kenya’s Pentecostal and charismatic churches also welcomed presidential contenders. Odinga visited a convention for the Akorino church, one of the largest of what are called the African Instituted Churches. He sat next to the church president and made a donation.

Despite his coziness with some church leaders, Odinga’s attempts to court conservative Christians didn’t always go well.

“Odinga and his running mate have made some damning statements that have rubbed evangelical Christians the wrong way—such as stating that small churches should be closed, that Christianity’s dominance in Kenya is a colonial legacy that needs to be brought down—and made promises to the Muslims to rectify this,” said Rachel Kitonyo, a Christian lawyer.

Ruto did better at reaching out to churches, she said. He repeatedly expressed his support for Christians and donated money to congregations and said his faith shaped his beliefs on homosexuality. He quoted Bible verses and talked about working together with Christian leaders, which resonated especially with Pentecostal Christians.

The candidates’ efforts to court Christians raised questions, for some Christian leaders, about the ideal relationship between pastors and politicians. Should churches be accepting money from political campaigns? For some, the donations raised the specter of corruption.

More than two-thirds of Kenyans (68 percent) think at least some religious leaders are corrupt. Kenya ranks 128th out of 180 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

Ruto “has projected himself as a genuine believer only interested in advancing the kingdom of God,” said Ogalo, “while some have argued that the millions given every week in such fundraisers are obviously proceeds of corruption and should therefore not be accepted in church. … It is not a secret that the matrix of money, power, ethnicity, and religion can create more hostility and relegate the values of the nations has always aspired for.”

Lucas Owako, an Anglican priest in Nairobi, finds it worrying that in his eyes the Kenyan church often only seems to speak with a collective political voice when it comes to abortion, LGBTQ issues, or religious freedom.

“Christians tend to feel that these issues directly concern them as compared to, say, issues of declining economy, national debt, corruption, or dysfunctional health systems,” he said. “That is why we all stood up to be counted during the campaigns for the 2010 constitution, which we opposed, but are muted, ambivalent or disjointed in confronting the latter issues, which are also real in the country.”

Organizing against postelection violence

One common point of consensus on Christian witness going into the 2022 election was that Christians could be—and should be—a voice for peace. Many viewed violence as a top concern and saw a role for Christian leaders. Churches came together and organized with the aim of preventing the riots that happened in 2008 and the violence that marred the 2013 and 2017 elections as well.

In an attempt to be proactive, several Christian groups organized a church and politics summit in 2021 and later released a Bible study guide based on the event.

The Association of Evangelicals in Africa’s (AEA) Msafara wa Upendo—a Kiswahili phrase that translates to Caravan of Love—pulled together groups in Garissa, Lamu, Isiolo, and Nairobi counties, all of which have seen conflict in past elections. Pastors and imams were asked to preach about peace inside and outside their houses of worship.

Some ministers affiliated with the AEA also served as election observers accredited by Kenya ’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and worked in five different counties.

“Be patriotic enough to accept the outcome,” said the AEA’s general secretary, Master Matlhaope, in a statement released on Election Day. “A peaceful election largely depends on the loser’s maturity and the winner’s magnanimity.”

Ruto declared himself the victory shortly after the August 9 election, with about 50.5 percent of the vote. As the challenge from Odinga made its way through the courts, the EAK called for peace and asked its members to pray for guidance for the judges. The organization also posted a hotline on their social media pages asking people to report any incidents.

These efforts came on the heels of another EAK program which had paired Christian leaders with presidential candidates, asking the former to pray for, encourage, and visit with these leaders.

“To a great success, these are the leaders that eventually became a bridge for/in mediation and peace building initiatives in the post-election season,” said Makanda.

To some observers, this seemed like an important step in Christians’ view of their political responsibilities in Kenya.

“Christian leaders’ understanding of the nexus between faith and politics is expanding, so many of them are taking their roles seriously as mediators, reconcilers, healers, advisers, and peacemakers,” said MCC’s Kiptoo. “There are many Christian leaders that organized prayer sessions for the country and for candidate and these help the congregants to take their roles seriously.”

There was little violence in the month of simmering tension as the challenge to the election results went to the Supreme Court. Christians, like their new president, are thanking God for that, as they continue to figure out their role in public life going forward.




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Man faces underage sex crime charges | News, Sports, Jobs

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A Tyrone man facing dozens of charges involving child pornography and human trafficking has been denied bail.

Paul Robert Holpit, 24, was arraigned Wednesday morning before Magisterial District Judge Fred B. Miller on 15 felony charges each of photographing, filming, or depicting a sex act involving a child and of disseminating explicit sexual material to a minor; eight felony counts each of trafficking in individuals-recruit/entice/solicit, of corruption of minors, of unlawful contact with a minor-sexual offenses and of drug possession with intent to deliver; three felony counts of criminal solicitation; two felony counts each of trafficking in individuals for financial benefit, of child pornography and of criminal solitication-sexual exploitation of children; one felony count each of criminal soliticiation-involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a person less than 16 years of age and of criminal solicitation-involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child; and 10 felony counts of criminal use of a communication facility.

He also faces two misdemeanor counts of corruption of minors and a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a person less than 16 years old.

According to the court docket, Holpit was denied bail due to the threat to the community and safety of the victims, his flight risk and the nature of the charges.

Holpit was remanded to the Blair County Prison awaiting a Sept. 20 preliminary hearing in front of Miller.

Pot for sex alleged

The charges stem from an five-month investigation by the Tyrone Borough Police Department after a minor female told police that Holpit provided numerous minors with marijuana in exchange for sexual acts.

On the police department’s Facebook page, police said 11 minor victims were identified and forensic interviews were conducted. The victims ranged from 12 to 17 years old, police said.

On May 6, borough police executed a search warrant on Holpit’s West 14th Street home and seized three iPhones, a Playstation, two HP laptops, an iWatch, cable modem, related charging cords, 297 grams of marijuana, clear sandwich bags, a silver scale and a glass pipe with residue.

Officers also received permission from parents and guardians to review the contents of cellphones belonging to the minors, court documents state.

During subsequent interviews, police said the minors reported talking to Holpit on Snapchat and meeting him in person. Holpit allegedly sent nude photos of himself to one 15-year-old, who said he sent photos at least once a day starting in December 2021 and continued for about two months. He also offered her free marijuana, alcohol and money in exchange for a sex act, the teen told police.

A 17-year-old told police she received marijuana from Holpit for about two years. In October 2021, Holpit began asking the girl for nude photos and she provided him with pictures a couple of times in exchange for marijuana. At least once, Holpit requested sex and he would send random pictures and videos of his genitals, she said. He also talked about her 12-year-old sister, asking the girl to talk the youngster into having sex with him for money.

The 12-year-old said she began talking to Holpit through Snapchat and then he began asking for photos of her body. He offered money, marijuana and tobacco for the pictures, she told police. He continued to ask, even though she said no, she said, and he sent photos of his genitals. He allegedly offered her money for oral sex.

Another 15-year-old said Holpit added her to Snapchat when she was 12 or 13 years old and conversations became sexual in nature, with Holpit asking for sex and sex acts in exchange for marijuana. She bought marijuana from him, the teen told police, and received nude photos of him on multiple occasions.

The interviews with the teens continued into June and July, according to court documents, and police talked to a 17-year-old, who also said she communicated with Holpit via Snapchat. Holpit allegedly sent her photos multiple times that included his genitals. He also asked for sexual favors in exchange for marijuana. The teen told police she did buy marijuana from Holpit in the past.

A 16-year-old said she purchased marijuana from Holpit and he used Snapchat to set up the purchases. She told police she then blocked him because she knew he sent nude photos to minors and requested sexual favors.

Marijuana bought

Four other minors, ranging in age from 15 to 17, told police that Holpit was their marijuana dealer. They also reported using Snapchat and that Holpit sent nude photos, asked for sex, sex acts and nude photos in exchange for the drug and in one case, asked a girl to have sex with him and another male in exchange for marijuana.

One 17-year-old said she began purchasing marijuana from Holpit, but the exchanges turned sexual, with Holpit giving her marijuana for sex acts and nude photos. He also sent her nude photos of himself via Snapchat and she received images about three times a week from November 2021 until April of this year, when she contacted police. Police said a majority of the in-person contacts with Holpit occurred at a Tyrone Borough church. At least one incident occurred in the parking lot of Penn Highlands Tyrone Hospital, police stated.

All victims reported receiving unsolicited photos of Holpit’s genitals and the photos appeared to have been taken in his bedroom, according to court documents.

Images of girls found

A search of Holpit’s cellphone turned up photos of the girls as well as images of large amounts of marijuana and cash. In addition, police said several conversations indicated Holpit was dealing marijuana. Videos, including of a minor girl giving oral sex to a minor boy, were found on the phone.

Police said 20 images and/or videos depicting child pornography were found and that Holpit provided eight minors with photos of his genitals.

He also provided seven of the juveniles with marijuana and arranged drug sales or disseminated pornographic images to nine individuals, court documents state. Holpit would meet individuals at various spots in Tyrone Borough to make drug deliveries, police reported.



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After 6 years, Karnataka government orders abolition of ACB, revival of Lokayukta

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The Karnataka government on Friday issued an order abolishing the state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), saying all its cases will be transferred to the Lokayukta.

The government order said that as per the orders of the Karnataka High Court, the ACB will be abolished and police station powers reordered to Lokayukta police. All the cases which are pending/under inquiry/other disciplinary actions will be transferred to Lokayukta, it added.

In mid-August, a division bench of the Karnataka High Court had ordered the abolishing of ACB and revival of an anti-corruption police unit attached to the Karnataka Lokayukta, a quasi-judicial institution that works independent of the state.

The high court order quashed a notification issued by the then Congress government in the state on March 14, 2016, to create the ACB and also subsequent notifications transferring power to probe corruption cases under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, from Karnataka Lokayukta police to the ACB.

“All inquiries, investigations and other disciplinary proceedings pending before ACB will get transferred to the Lokayukta. However, all inquiries, investigations, disciplinary proceedings, orders of convictions/acquittals and all other proceedings held by ACB till today are hereby saved and the police wing of Karnataka Lokayukta shall proceed from the stage at which they are pending as on today, in accordance with law,” the bench said in its order.

Stating that it was “high time” the state government strengthened the institution of Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta and got back their “glory”, the court observed that the institution of Lokayukta has been reduced to being “paper tigers” by the March 14, 2016 executive order to transfer police powers to ACB.

The order for abolishing the ACB relates to cases filed in 2016 by the Advocates Association of Bengaluru, the Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, and advocate Chidananda Urs over Lokayukta powers being given to ACB.

The high court had stated that “there was no necessity for the state government to constitute ACB parallel to the institution of Lokayukta, that too when a person to be appointed as Lokayukta shall be a person who has held the office of a judge of Supreme Court, or that of the Chief Justice of a high court, or a person who has held the office of a judge of a high court for not less than ten years; and a person to be appointed a Upa-Lokayukta shall be a person who has held the office of a judge of a high court for not less than five years.”

The high court acknowledged that Lokayukta had become a powerful institution and was plagued by internal corruption but observed that the solution to the problem was in cleaning the institution and not withdrawing its powers to probe.




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Latest Updates: Deepak Mundi sent to 7-day police remand in Sidhu Moosewala case

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THE TIMES OF INDIA | Sep 11, 2022, 10:55:02 IST

Daily City News Updates

Union home and cooperation minister Amit Shah will take part in a cooperative conference in Gujarat’s Amreli district on Sunday and unveil a 16-feet tall statue of Lord Hanuman in Somnath town. Stay with TOI for all the latest updates:Read Less




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